Mon | Jun 17, 2019

We need term limits in sport

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr. Paul Wright, Contributor
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter (left) UEFA president Michel Platini (centre) and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke are engaged in conversation during the 65th FIFA Congress held at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, last Friday.


A recent editorial in the prestigious Wall Street Journal titled 'If FIFA ran the World' opined that if FIFA did indeed run the world, 'We could expect a global culture of greasy palms that would inevitably lure some Americans into bribery ethic. Western corporations and governments would provide the financing as long as they didn't ask too many questions".

This has come about because of an indictment from the USA Department of Justice on several FIFA executives (including some of our Caribbean brothers), accusing them of corruption by selling their support for World Cup locations and marketing rights. Accusations of corruption are nothing new to the president and executives of FIFA.

Several Caribbean football executives had been suspended from this organisation for some form of malfeasance/corruption, yet smilingly continue on their merry way as if " ... a-nuh-nutten". Yet, throughout the world, men like these are all allowed to continue in positions of power by supporters who apparently object to what I would call "moral suasion", which would demand the immediate removal from office of any one so accused. President Blatter won a fifth consecutive term by a vote of 133-73, supported by a majority coalition of representatives of Latin America, Africa and the rest of the Third World. In other words, "Go on, Presi, we are behind you".

I am not in the least surprised by the vote of confidence in this man by representatives of the Third World. In my own 'neck of the woods', Jamaica, it seems that persons vying for positions of power campaign with impressive manifestos, promising to make the sport 'First World', but once in power, and having failed to deliver on campaign promises, use what can only be described as bizarre means to stay in power, again seemingly supported by a majority of members who lack "moral suasion".

In local football, our president was re-elected after his suspension from the world body, and after some brave parish affiliates dared to point out that the sponsorship of parish competitions by a company of which the candidate was the CEO (flouting a FIFA directive) should have disqualified his candidacy. In cricket, an opponent was silenced by fisticuffs, and the potential bankruptcy of the region's cricket authority by presidential action was seen as mere blips in the administration of the sport by the president's supporters. So he continues as leader.

In horse racing, the president of one association has refused, point blank, to have an 'annual' general meeting for the past six years, yet appears at every photo opportunity and press conference, while the sport itself slides inexorably into bankruptcy, again supported by members who apparently lack 'moral

suasion'. In another sporting organisation, a much re-elected president apparently observed a member of his executive with presidential ambitions, and who was gaining some support from the members, so he 'whispered' his intention to step down at the next annual general meeting, prompting his rival to resign from a post of potential conflict if successful as president in the election, but would effectively remove him from further positions of 'threat' if unsuccessful.


president for life


Having secured his rivals', resignation from the executive, the 'wily' president suddenly decides at the last minute that he would run 'one more time', thus successfully securing another term as president. I could go on and on, "president for life" is not only the moniker of Haitian dictators and members of their family, it seems to be the norm, not only in sports, which is the theme of articles on this page, but also in politics. When last have you heard of 'succession planning' with a four-year time line, or a leader who volunteers to 'give someone else a chance to lead'.

We the people need term limits and the power of recall on elected representatives in whatever sphere of life that involves us. This will not come by begging those in power, but only by demanding that those in power (and their supporters) accept the principle of moral suasion.